By Ian Smith
St. Louis (RPRN) 8/5/2009â€” Dan Piraro, creator of the internationally syndicated comic strip Bizarro, is known for using his unique brand of humor to call attention to the very real suffering of animals. Piraro recently created a cartoon in which he criticizes the controversial cat-intubation training courses offered at facilities such as St. Louis Children’s Hospital, the Heartland Regional Medical Center, and Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center.
Piraro’s new cartoon depicts a doctor about to intubate a screaming child. The doctor attempts to console the child’s anxious mother by exclaiming, “Don’t worry, I did this on a sedated cat once.”
Piraro sent his cartoon to newspapers with an accompanying letter explaining, “It doesn’t take a medical degree to recognize that practicing intubation on a limp cat is nothing like doing the same procedure on a much larger, crying, squirming and/or coughing human child.” Piraro further explained his decision to create this cartoon, saying, “I’ve drawn the accompanying cartoon to convey the grave consequences of this kind of antiquated logic.”
In the intubation procedures at St. Louis Children’s Hospital, trainees repeatedly force plastic tubes down cats’ windpipes. This can cause bleeding and swelling in the tissues of the cats’ throats as well as pain, scarring, collapsed lungs, and even death.
Piraro’s views on the use of animals in medical training are strongly in line with the current standard of practice in the medical community. Nearly every facility in the country that offers this training uses non-animal methods. In fact, the American Heart Associationâ€”which sponsors the most widely offered life support course that includes intubation trainingâ€”exclusively endorses the use of manikins, not live animals, for this training and has distanced itself from facilities that still use animals. Similar endorsements have been issued by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Emergency Nurses Association; both organizations sponsor pediatric life support courses that teach intubation skills.
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